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December 5 – Just When You Thought You Were Dead and Without Hope…

Can a man divorce his own widow? That sounds like the start of a bad gotcha joke, doesn’t it? In 1987, Gandaruban Subramanium ran a car rental business in Singapore that had serious financial problems. He faked his own death and his “widow,” Renuga Devi Sinnadurry collected his life insurance. He set up his home in Sri Lanka, but wanted to maintain the relationship with his wife, so, in 1994 he obtained a passport under a fake name and returned to Singapore to marry his “widow.” They had their fourth child together, but alas, there was a falling out among thieves, and Gandaruban Subramanium ended up divorcing his own “widow.” So, perhaps that story didn’t work out exactly like you thought it would, but it’s technically accurate to say that he was a dead man walking, and breathing, and marrying.

From a spiritual perspective, that’s either a good description of who you were, or who you are. As we continue looking at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we see Paul dealing with the effects of sin. When we live in sin, well, spiritually, when we’re dead in our sin, we gratify the cravings of the flesh. We follow our own desires and our own thoughts with no thought of God on our minds. We are deserving of the wrath of God. (Yep, that phrase is there in verse 3.) If you want to understand the wrath of God, just read the passage from Ezekiel listed for today. Imagine a time and a place when God removes Himself from your life. That’s the wrath of God. We don’t face it, though. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)

Paul doesn’t mince words here. Our situation before God came into our lives is that we were dead. Dead in our transgressions, dead in our trespasses, dead in our sins. We were without hope. We were destined to live eternally without the presence of God. Then, in a transition Paul described to the Galatians as being crucified with Christ, God brought us out of death and into life. If you were to tell people that this was possible, they might say something like: “This sounds great! Who do I have to kill?” The answer is simple: you have to die to yourself and accept the grace of God. Most of us, if we full realized the joy of living in God’s presence would do anything to make it possible to be with Him. Paul lets us know here that we can’t do anything: “it is by grace you have been saved.” This whole chapter of Ephesians is a remarkable exposition of the grace of God that transforms us into His people. We gain His grace not by anything we do, but because of His great love for us and because of His mercy.

So how do we respond to this love and mercy? The “church answer” is that we must accept it. That answer makes me think of a person winning the lottery and reluctantly accepting the check for millions of dollars. I don’t just accept God’s love, mercy, and grace, I embrace it! I revel in it! I know that I don’t deserve it and I welcome it into my life with my whole being. I react by finding ways to share that love with others. Paul noted that we have gained this grace so that we can do good works which God has prepared beforehand. There are a lot of things that I have to plan to do. I’m not very good at planning. But serving God by responding to His grace and doing good works to further His kingdom, all I have to do is be ready to act when God reveals the good work He’s already planned for me. The way to serve God in an atmosphere of grace is by living obediently, knowing that He’s got this whole thing planned.


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